Earlier this month, President Obama announced that his campaign hauled in $86 million, more than the entire Republican presidential field combined. The campaign, ever Internet-savvy, released a YouTube video featuring Jim Messina, the president's reelection manager, who described the framework being laid for the president's 2012 run with neat, minimalist graphics.
Among the many ways the Obama campaign is investing its money early in the race is by opening around 60 field offices around the country. We wondered if the locations of these field offices can tell us about Obama's priorities early in the race. So, in order to gauge which states Obama considers most important for victory, we charted the number of field offices per electoral vote. Our thinking is that the higher the number of field offices per vote, the more effort his campaign is putting into that state, at least in the early stages. The field offices in question are either already up and running or will be soon, according to the map featured in the campaign video. By our count, 57 offices are already open with 15 on the way. The 13 states with no offices yet are not included on the chart.
So what does the chart tell us?
- Small swing states that have early primaries are the Obama campaign's top priority so far. Iowa and New Hampshire top the list with the highest number of field offices per electoral vote, with 0.83 and 0.5 offices for each vote in the Electoral College, respectively.
- Also high on the list are states the president won in 2008--New Mexico, Delaware, Nevada, and Wisconsin--that his campaign would like to get a head-start on securing votes before the Republican nominee emerges.
- Populous swing states like Florida and Ohio, both of which Obama narrowly won in 2008 and both crucial to victory, have the most field offices outright currently, with six and five, respectively. Currently, both these states fall toward the middle of the list. Despite their importance, the campaign might figure that these states are concentrated with enough offices at this point in the race. As the campaign ramps up, they could move up the rankings.
- Louisiana, South Carolina, and Virginia are conspicuously high in the chart, considering that they are traditional Southern strongholds for the GOP. Obama made inroads in the South by appealing to African Americans there, scraping out a win in Virginia last time. He is likely looking to put a few more Southern states in the win column in 2012.
- Toward the bottom of the list are California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey--all states with large delegations in the Electoral College, but all solidly blue. Joining them at the bottom are Texas, Georgia, and Tennessee, states you wouldn't expect the president to put up much of a fight.
One thing we know for certain: this is just the beginning. Consider: by one count, he had 770 field offices by October 2008.